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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Helen Mayo @Everton

Catering at Everton Football Club has been named the best in the country after its chefs took first place in a prestigious industry competition.

Chefs Darren Ryder and Antony Smith took the gold medal in their category in the Salon Culinaire contest for professionals working in the catering industry, run as part of The Hospitality Show held at Birmingham’s NEC this week.

Darren and Antony, who work for Sodexo Prestige which runs the catering at the Club, achieved gold standard and were named “Best in Class” in the Major International Contract Catering/Football Stadia award category.

The pair beat off stiff competition from chefs representing football clubs from across the UK to take the coveted title.

This is not the first time that Darren and Antony’s skills have been recognised as last year they received a silver medal at Hotelyimpia, the catering world’s equivalent of the Olympics.

Everton’s catering also beat off competition from football clubs across the UK to win the Directors Choice in the Premier League award – voted for by the board of directors of Premier League clubs during away games - at The Stadium Experience Official Football Hospitality Awards 2012.

Darren and Antony are based at the Dixie Dean kitchen at Goodison Park and are mentored by executive head chef and last year’s Sodexo unit chef of the year, Gareth Billington.

They prepare menus and food for the directors and for the boardroom, ensuring they showcase both the best of British and local produce each matchday.

For the competition, the chefs had to prepare a two-course menu, creating a starter plate of John Dory comprising a pan-seared fillet, cheek wrapped in string potato, samphire mousse centred with capers, black garlic ash, cylinder of crispy skin, cauliflower and cumin puree, and langoustine  bisque.

For main course, the chefs presented ‘a forest floor of foragers’ delight’ featuring
saddle of venison with black truffle farce rolled in a pistachio and granola crumb, dehydrated blackberry dust, morrelles, chanterelles, asparagus tips, parsnip and chestnut puree, herb gnocchi and Madeira sauce.

“This is a strongly contested category which attracts some of the best chefs working at stadia across the country,” said Ian Simpson, General Manager for Sodexo Prestige at the club.

“So it’s a huge acknowledgment of the skills and expertise of the chefs at Everton. It’s to the credit of everyone involved in the catering at Goodison Park that we are going from strength to strength and our success is down to a real team effort.”

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